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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Summer is finally beginning to wind down—and that means some venues are waking up after summer hibernations. Here are some of the most noteworthy events happening in our warm and sandy home.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting a lot of fantastic events in September. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1, the “Something Great From 68’” tour will land at the Indio casino, bringing Brian Wilson and The Zombies to play music from their 1968 works: Wilson, the songwriting genius from the Beach Boys, will play from the albums Friends and Surf’s Up, in addition to “all the hits,” while The Zombies—recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees—will play the album Odessey and Oracle. Check out an interview with Colin Blunstone from The Zombies here. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, Bryan Adams will stop in to perform his pop-rock hits such as “Summer of ’69,” “Heaven” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You.” These radio staples are timeless, but seeing them live could give new life to them, and perhaps to your relationship—the show has potential to be a great date night. Tickets are $59 to $99. The Doobie Brothers, one of the most successful non-disco bands during the disco era, will hit the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14. They’ll bring more than five decades of songs to the Special Events Center … but I doubt they’ll bring doobies, since I don’t think those are allowed inside. Tickets are $39 to $69. If you like Latin music, you’ll want to be there at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, when Luis Fonsi will perform songs spanning his 20-year career, including the world-wide smash hit “Despacito,” a remix of which famously featured Justin Bieber. Tickets are $49 to $99. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, alt-rock crooner Rob Thomas, formerly of Matchbox 20—a band you might remember if you watched VH1 in the ’90s—will perform in support of his fourth solo album, Chip Tooth Smile. Though he has a wide catalog of solo material, based on recent set lists, Thomas will probably throw in a few of Matchbox 20’s hits (“Unwell,” “3 a.m.,” and “If You’re Gone”), in addition to a rendition of his 1999 smash hit with Santana, “Smooth.” Tickets are $59 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

1980s pop legends Duran Duran will bring the band’s songs and co-occurring glam fashion to The Show at Agua Caliente at 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5. This performance is only one of seven shows scheduled (as of this writing) for the British icons, whose songs include “Rio,” “Girls on Film,” “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Tickets were $85 to $115, but are listed as sold out … so if you want to go, you’re going to need to check the secondary markets. September in the Coachella Valley seems to really attract legendary acts, as Steely Dan will also play at The Show, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. The band is famous for its eclectic influences. Its endurance as a classic-rock act is indebted to legendary songs including “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Do It Again.” It will be interesting to see this iconic band perform in an intimate venue. If all of the concerts occurring this month haven’t already depleted your entertainment budget … tickets are $125 to $175. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, Morongo welcomes comedian Felipe Esparza. Read our profile on him here. Tickets start at $39, and were close to selling out at our press deadline. Although we don’t know the weather for that day yet, it will at least be 98 Degrees at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, when the ’90s boy band featuring Nick Lachey and company will stop by to perform the hits. Tickets are $29 to $49. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, has a lot of good shows for fans of indie rock scheduled in September. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, the female-led Merge Records band Ex Hex will perform its garage-punk alongside queer icon Seth Bogart (from Hunx and His Punx). This is an inside show, and tickets are $18 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, Pappy and Harriet’s will welcome Sharon Van Etten (below; photo by Ryan Pfluger)who has been gaining much acclaim lately from independent radio and media, most notably for the melancholic yet uplifting song “Seventeen.” Tickets are $32 to $36. Acclaimed lo-fi indie-pop musician Ariel Pink will perform in support of his new album at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. Support will come from Jennifer Herrema. This rare show from this “cult weirdo” promises to be interesting and will be worth the drive up the mountain. Tickets range $28 to $33. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Open again after its usual two-month summer hiatus, the Purple Room at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, will welcome Adam Pascal, an original cast member of Rent. He most recently performed in Pretty Woman: The Musical. The event, “So Far …” promises to be an “intimate, acoustic, career retrospective, including questions, answers, stories, and songs, in a one-of-a-kind event.” Tickets are $40 to $50. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, Brenna Whitaker will stop by to perform her vast catalog of cover songs and originals. One of her biggest fans is Michael Bublé! Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucans is waking up from its summer entertainment slumber with a show by someone who’s becoming a Palm Springs regular: Ty Herndon will perform at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20. The country singer twice topped the country charts with songs back in the ’90s; he came out as a gay man in 2014. Tickets are $30 to $40. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

Published in Previews

The Zombies are one of classic rock’s greats—and one of classic rock’s great paradoxes. Even though the band has been wildly successful—the British Invasion made “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season,” with its famous opening riff and echoey vocals, big hits in the United States—the name is unbeknownst to many.

The reason? While the band is approaching its 60th anniversary, it’s been active for less than half that time.

The Zombies will perform alongside musical genius and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson at Fantasy Springs Casino Resort on Sunday, Sept. 1, as part of the “Something Great From ’68” tour. I was able to speak to lead vocalist Colin Blunstone about this opportunity.

“I’ve always listened to Brian Wilson’s music with awe. I think he’s absolutely wonderful, and the guys in his band are great too,” Blunstone said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience to tour with him and his band—from a musical point of view, but also just to be traveling with brilliant musicians and fantastic people. It’s going to be a truly wonderful show!”

Earlier this year, the Zombies were at long last inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Radiohead, The Cure, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson and Roxy Music.

“It was so exciting to get that kind of award in the autumn of your career,” Blunstone said. “It’s a recognition from both your fans and from the music industry that they’ve appreciated what you’ve been doing all of these years. It’s a wonderful feeling and still very exciting.”

The band’s momentous achievement was well deserved, as the Zombies’ career has been full of hard work and sacrifices.

“It was nonstop craziness in the ’60s,” Blunstone said. “When we first came over, we played in New York for the Murray the K’s Show at the Brooklyn Fox on Christmas 1964. We opened on Christmas Day and played for about 10 days, and did six or seven shows a day! Most of the artists did one or two songs, and there were about 15 acts on the bill: Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, and more. That was our first experience on a stage, and it was absolutely brilliant. We were a little apprehensive since we were only 19 and came to the land of rock ’n’ roll. Every British musician wants to play in America, because this is where the blues, rhythm and blues, and rock ’n’ roll originated. We came in awe of the history of American music, and there was a very good backstage camaraderie, because we were all away from home over Christmas, so there was a great team spirit feeling there.”

The Zombies went on to tour relentlessly. The conditions were not ideal.

“It was quite physically demanding,” Blunstone said. “We were doing huge distances, and often not staying in hotels after shows. We did the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars and played with Del Shannon, Tommy Roe, the Shangri-Las, and Velvelettes. Since some of the artists lower on the bill weren’t earning as much, we would have to sleep on the bus every second night: They would drive slowly through the night so we didn’t have to get a hotel. We would arrive as late as possible in hopes that our rooms would be ready, and we could catch a bit of sleep before the show. We were all very tired at the end of that particular tour.

“Dick Clark had a few different tours out in the States, and the top acts would meet up at the end of the tour. We went up to Canada and got to play with Tom Jones, Peter and Gordon, Herman’s Hermits and a whole host of other artists at the end, which was very exciting. We played very big, sold-out venues, and there was still that ’60s hysteria. It even got a bit scary sometimes, because the audiences got a little bit out of control sometimes. It was a very strange phenomenon to witness.”

Feeling frustrated over what they perceived as a lack of success, the members of the Zombies parted ways in 1967. The band wouldn’t truly reunite until 2000.

“We had been together since 1961, and our first record was in 1964. We had only been together professionally for three years, but we worked very, very hard. I think we all needed a break,” Blunstone said. “In 1967, the band finished. Maybe if we had taken a break, we could’ve got back together. We perceived ourselves as being unsuccessful, and it is only years later that we realized we’d always had a hit record somewhere in the world. Without the internet, we didn’t realize what was happening. We would get the chart positions from countries around the world almost two years later!

“In ’67, we saw ourselves as unsuccessful, but really we weren’t. Everyone thought it was time to move on, and so we did, but then we found ourselves in a very strange position when ‘Time of the Season’ reached No. 1 on the Cash Box (magazine) chart (in 1968), and there was no band. We were all committed to other projects, and it was just too late to put the band back together. … It’s very unusual that we didn’t get back together to promote and exploit the hit record, but it was never even talked about between us.”

The members of the Zombies stayed close. They frequently collaborated on projects, including Blunstone’s debut solo album, One Year, in 1971.

“(Fellow Zombies members) Rod Argent and Chris White produced many of my solo albums, which were quite successful in the U.K. and Europe, but never in America,” Blunstone said. “People think that I just stopped and didn’t start working again until recently when we regrouped, but I was always working; I just had no chart success in America, so there’s really no reference for it.”

What finally led the Zombies to reunite after more than 30 years?

“There was a band put together with Don Airey, who was in Deep Purple and played with Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne and many other rock groups,” Blunstone said. “He called me quite often and encouraged me to get out on the road. He put a band together, and we started touring in 1997. … Eventually, Don and the guys moved on, and we had six shows left with no keyboard player. I rang Rod Argent, who had established himself as a successful producer and had been in the studio for a long time. I didn’t think he’d want to get out on the road again, but he said he’d do those six. … Here we are, almost 20 years later, still playing. I try not to make too many plans, because nothing works out the way you think it will. But 20 years on, and here we are, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“It’s always been the same with the Zombies—we’ve always played because we just enjoy playing; there was never any thought of hit records or awards. We just really love music, and that’s always what’s driven us. The music business is very tough, and if you’re not in it because you love performing, writing and recording, then it’s incredibly hard to keep any level of enthusiasm.”

The Zombies will perform with Brian Wilson at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Drive, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $89. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

When the Beach Boys released Pet Sounds in May 1966, neither the band’s fans nor the music world in general were ready.

Brian Wilson, the band’s frontman and main songwriter, will be performing the album in its entirety on Saturday, March 18, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

Pet Sounds today is considered one of the greatest rock albums ever made, and a significant milestone in psychedelic music. For the Beach Boys, a group that had previously written songs about fun, surfing, the beach and the California lifestyle, Pet Sounds was both a departure and a turning point.

Brian Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown while on a plane during the band’s 1964 tour; after that, he opted not to tour with the band. While the band performed in Japan, Wilson began recording the album with session players, most of which were part of the legendary Wrecking Crew, including bassist Carol Kaye, country singer Glen Campbell on guitar, drummer Jim Gordon and others.

“They were all great musicians,” Wilson said during a recent phone interview. “They read the manuscript, and it just worked perfectly. (Their participation) was very beneficial.”

Wilson is a notoriously tough interview, and he gave me brief replies to all of my questions during a recent phone chat.

Pet Sounds was unlike anything ever recorded. Wilson used real dogs to contribute some of the sound effects; the rhythm section used Coca-Cola cans and orange juice jugs as instruments; and some of the musicians—the bass players, for example—each played in different keys.

Wilson explained the most difficult aspect of the recording of Pet Sounds.

“The roughest part was doing the vocals,” he said. “We had to keep concentrating on it until it was perfect.”

When the rest of the Beach Boys—Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Al Jardine—returned home to record their vocals for the album, they were not prepared for the change in direction.

“They really had to reach for those notes,” Wilson said.

The album’s initial reception in the United States was lukewarm. It peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard albums chart, and initially sold just 500,000 copies. But in the United Kingdom, the album shot to No. 2 on the charts, stayed in the Top 10 for six months and was the strongest-selling album in the final quarter of 1966. Later, the album eventually went gold and then platinum.

Wilson said Capitol Records executives were not initially fans of the album.

“They didn’t like it, and they thought it was too advanced,” Wilson said. “A couple weeks later, they said, ‘OK, we’ll release it.’ So they released it. We knew we were onto something great, so we just kept writing and writing.”

The Beatles previously said that Pet Sounds was an influence for them when it came time for the Fab Four to record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“I was surprised,” Wilson said. “Paul (McCartney) called me and told me loved the sound of Pet Sounds. The music was inspired by it, but Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s are two entirely different albums.”

Wilson said that while it might be possible to record an album such as Pet Sounds today thanks to digital production techniques, it wouldn’t be as authentic.

The album that was supposed to follow Pet Sounds, titled Smile, was interrupted and later shelved due to Wilson’s mental illness. The Beach Boys released a stripped-down version of the album, Smiley Smile, in 1967; Wilson eventually went back and finished Smile in 2004. Could Wilson do the same touring for Smile as he’s currently doing for Pet Sounds?

“We don’t know yet. We were thinking about it, but we don’t know for sure yet,” he said.

Over the past year, Wilson has been on tour with Al Jardine and former Beach Boys guitarist Blondie Chaplin, performing the album in its entirety for its 50th anniversary. He’s calling these shows the final performances of the album in its entirety.

The late Carl Wilson said the Beach Boys had turned down offers to perform the album in its entirety because it was too complex, and that Brian Wilson couldn’t sing the original parts of the album. However, Brian Wilson said that performing the album isn’t difficult for him.

“It’s not difficult, but it’s very cumbersome. You have to keep trying until you get it just right,” he said.

Wilson said he’s pleased by the responses he’s gotten during live performances.

“People seem to like it. They always do standing ovations,” he said.

Brian Wilson will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 18, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $89. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

Paul Dano and John Cusack play Brian Wilson younger and older—and both are spectacular in this well-done biopic focusing on the Beach Boys legend.

Dano occupies the 1960s and ’70s, with Wilson experimenting in the studio, experimenting with drugs and starting to lose his mind. Cusack picks up the story later in life, with Wilson journeying outside after years of seclusion, and eventually falling in love with a car salesman (Elizabeth Banks). Paul Giamatti is sinister as Dr. Eugene Landy, the man who kept Wilson secluded for years and basically terrorized him into remaining mentally ill.

While neither actor is a dead ringer for Wilson, they are successful in capturing his mannerisms. Dano plays Wilson as a man with childlike wonder as he leads dogs into the studio to make music. Cusack gets everything from the facial tics to Wilson’s soft-spoken voice. They both deliver stunning performances—and because the film had the cooperation of Wilson, you get to hear Beach Boys music, too.

Both stories are told in parallel, rather than chronological, fashion, and it’s a great way to see Wilson’s life.

Love and Mercy is playing at the Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9 (789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 844-462-7342); the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342); and the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).

Published in Reviews

The Beach Boys formed in 1961, and would soon go on to forever popularize the idea of being a Southern California teenager.

On Saturday night, Aug. 30, Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine stopped by Fantasy Springs to play a show for their original teenage fans—as well as a surprising number of younger people.

After the lights flicked off, the backing band took the stage, followed by Wilson, who hobbled over toward his piano, which had a teleprompter in front of it. Al Jardine soon followed with his guitar and took a spot in front of a microphone not too far from Wilson. They received welcoming applause as they started off with “California Girls,” from the 1965 studio album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). They followed with “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Catch a Wave,” which featured the amazing harmonies for which the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson are known. When Jardine took over the vocals on “Hawaii,” the crowd immediately began to cheer; he sang perfectly.

Wilson and the band amused the crowd by leading them in a sing-a-long of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” before moving into “Shut Down.” Jardine then sang “Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song),” during which it became apparent: His vocals have held up better than Wilson’s vocals. At times, it seemed as if Wilson was being carried by the two backing vocalists.

The harmonies were perfect during “In My Room” and “Surfer Girl,” with both songs sounding like they did on the 1960s recordings. Wilson then announced they would be turning over vocal duties on “Darlin’” to their keyboardist, Darian Sahanaja. He sang a lovely, soulful version of the song—but why was he singing it, rather than Wilson or Jardine? A couple of songs later, things got even stranger, when Wilson announced they were going to let a backup vocalist named Chad Odhner take a song—with Wilson adding that Chad had joined the band earlier in the day. Odhner’s vocals on “Don’t Worry Baby” were great—but, again, why weren’t one of the greats the audience paid to see handling the vocals?

One of the percussionists, Scott Bennett, handled the vocals on “Sail On, Sailor,” a song released in 1973 on the album Holland, which was made after Wilson had left the Beach Boys. Odhner was then given the lead vocals for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” with Jardine and Wilson singing some of the backing harmonies. While this song is a Beach Boys classic, the vocals switch made it feel like it was being performed as part of a Las Vegas revue. Thankfully, a wonderful performance of “Sloop John B” followed; Wilson’s vocals didn’t sound as strong as they once were, but the song sounded great—and it was nice to hear Wilson taking the lead. Alas, Odhner was then given the lead on “God Only Knows.” Before the musicians left the stage for their encore, they launched into “Good Vibrations.” At one point, Wilson flubbed some of the lyrics and briefly appeared confused.

They definitely saved the best for last: In one of the longest encores I’ve ever seen, they performed “All Summer Long,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around,” “Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Throughout the encore, audience members were on their feet, clapping, singing and dancing along.

Considering all that Brian Wilson has been through over the years, it’s nice to see that both he and Al Jardine are still able to put on a high-quality show. It would have been even better, though, had they not surrendered the lead vocals on so many of their great songs.

Photos by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.

Published in Reviews